Werder Bremen includes cognitive data in talent evaluation - BrainsFirst

Brain-based talent approach becomes a standard in Bundesliga.

The German club competing in Bundesliga and the Amsterdam-based Sports tech company BrainsFirst started their collaboration this month with a focus on the identification and selection of the most promising football talents. The common goal is to make the process of talent identification & evaluation more fact-based, data-driven and scalable. Werder Bremen believes cognition adds crucial performance-predictive information to the talent evaluation processes. Better player selection leads to more home-grown players in the first team and a more positive transfer balance for the German club.

BrainsFirst offers its validated assessment games platform, by combining gamification and cutting-edge neuroscience technology. Originated at the sidelines of Real Madrid & FC Barcelona and researched amongst 1200+ European pro players, BrainsFirst succeeded in decoding “game intelligence”. The company enables Werder Bremen to assess the football brain potential of a player. This kind of data is considered as a crucial piece of the overall talent puzzle. According to previous experiences in Premier League, Bundesliga, Eredivisie, Primera Division, Ekstraklasa, Liga MX, and Jupiler Pro League, applying BrainsFirst as an early-funnel player recruitment step leads to more justified admissions & rejections and consequently a higher efficiency and returns in the overall process.

Co-innovation leads to success

Tobias Süveges, Sportleiter U10 - U14, Werder Bremen, explains:
"Through the success in talent development of clubs such as AZ Alkmaar, PSV Eindhoven, etc., we became aware of BrainsFirst and subsequently studied the approach intensively. We saw great potential for the identification of the region's greatest talents, but above all for the individual development of our players, so we are very much looking forward to our future cooperation."

BrainsFirst has had its initial experiences already since 2014 with partners like PSV Eindhoven, Feyenoord Rotterdam, AZ Alkmaar and the Dutch FA. Meanwhile its client base has grown exponentially in the Top-10 European leagues. Now they strengthen their position in Bundesliga. “Werder Bremen decided to choose this approach of talent identification & evaluation with a long term perspective. They prove to have a clear vision and want to use the tools of today to succeed in the future. We are very excited to work with this legendary club,” says Eric Castien, BrainsFirst’s founder.

Crucial part of the talent puzzle

When (youth) players play the game, data is collected and a unique representative brain profile is made. “Everyone is good and less good at something,” says Castien. “The games give you more insight into that.”

The method measures players on potential rather than what they already can do. To cope with the complexity of modern top football, it is not only necessary to be good technically, physically and motorically. Certain brain functions must also be of a high level otherwise for example, ‘in-match information’ is processed too slowly to participate at top level.

Castien: “In talent recognition, the current performance of a young player is often taken as the main indicator, while this has a strong bias, such as physically. Players with a biological advantage at age fifteen might be better than their teammates at that moment. They are often seen as the high-potentials of their generation, but some years later, their peers usually physically catch them up. By adding a cognitive component to talent recognition, as a club you gain a better insight into whether someone is also ahead in that area. This allows you to see the bigger talent picture.”

About BrainsFirst:

BrainsFirst BV was founded in 2012 to define the context specific required cognitive functions of elite football players. Since 2014, the data collection, analysis & interpretation leads to a considerably higher number of justified admissions & rejections in talent academies. Dutch clubs like PSV Eindhoven, AZ Alkmaar, Feyenoord Rotterdam and national association KNVB are long-term partners. Since 2020 clubs in Germany, Belgium, Mexico, England and Spain have implemented the software in their talent recruitment process.

Discover more about how cognitive science can enhance talent identification.